180LA Wins Miller Lite Creative Account Without a Review

Win marks brand's fourth agency switch in 4 years

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Less than two years after choosing TBWA\Chiat\Day, Los Angeles, as lead creative agency for the best-selling Miller Lite brand, parent company MillerCoors has tapped the agency's sister shop 180LA for lead creative duties without a review.

A TBWA spokesperson tells Adweek its Los Angeles office will remain a roster agency for MillerCoors, but 180LA will create the next Miller Lite campaign. Representatives for 180LA have not responded to requests for comment.

"Miller Lite is the original light beer, and we are tremendously proud of this unique beer and brand," a MillerCoors representative told Adweek. "As we continue to share that pride with beer drinkers, we need partners that will evolve and contribute to that journey with us."

Both agencies are Omnicom properties operating within the larger TBWA network, and this news follows February reports that the brand had begun "looking for ideas" from other shops in that circle.

"The network of TBWA resources has been invaluable thus far and we look forward to continuing our relationship with TBWA to drive further growth, momentum and excitement for our iconic brand moving forward," said the MillerCoors spokesperson.

The past few years have marked a somewhat turbulent period for Miller beer marketing.

In September 2014, TBWA\Chiat\Day beat out Publicis' Leo Burnett to become the Miller Lite brand's third lead creative agency in just over two years. The company parted ways with FCB and Saatchi & Saatchi before launching the review, and it had been working with Ogilvy & Mather and Johannes Leonardo on project-based work in the interim.

Last summer, MillerCoors also reshuffled its agency lineup for the Coors Light, Leinenkugel's and Blue Moon brands. The former went to 72andSunny after Coors dropped its former dedicated unit Cavalry—which was founded in 2012 specifically to handle that account—while the latter two brands went to San Francisco's Venables Bell & Partners. That agency later saw its first campaign for Leinenkugel's canceled for "straying too far from the brand."

These account moves preceded the October 2015 news that AB InBev and MillerCoors' parent company SABMiller had agreed to merge in a deal valued at $104 billion. The terms of that deal required SABMiller to sell its stake in MillerCoors, which later parted ways with head of brand marketing Gannon Jones.

Jones had played a key role in facilitating the TBWA\Chiat\Day win. Several years before joining MillerCoors, he served as director of consumer relationship marketing at Kraft Foods Group when that company was working with the TBWA network.

According to Kantar Media, MillerCoors spent $158 million on paid media to promote the Miller Lite brand in 2015.

Several prominent employees will leave TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles along with lead status on Miller Lite. Last week, Adweek's AgencySpy blog reported that president Luis DeAnda would be departing after 14 years with the TBWA organization and that he would be accompanied by what a spokesperson called "a very small" number of additional staffers across departments.

Announcements regarding new leadership at TBWA L.A. are expected in the coming weeks. It's not clear at this time whether the Miller shift precipitated the restructuring.

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.